LaPierre’s Grift

“Wayne LaPierre” by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Via NPR: Jury finds NRA, Wayne LaPierre liable in civil corruption case.

A Manhattan jury found three top executives of the National Rifle Association liable Friday in a lengthy civil trial that focused on alleged corruption and the misspending of millions of dollars.

[…]

The executives were accused of misappropriating and mismanaging funds donated to the gun rights group’s members. According to James, their actions led to “the loss of more than $64 million in just three years.” 

During the six-week trial, state lawyers alleged that LaPierre had spent over $11 million for private flights and approved $135 million in NRA contracts in exchange for yacht access and free trips to the Bahamas, Greece and other vacation hotspots, The Associated Press reported.

It is hard to look at these revelations and come to any other conclusion that LaPierre and his cronies knew an excellent grift when they saw it and to conclude that they were more than happy to stoke the fears of members to keep the dollars flowing.

LaPierre’s famous notion that the “only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” was an odious one that has proven to be largely untrue (see, e.g., Uvalde, TX).

The idea that an armed society is a polite one ends up also not to be true (see, e.g., the shooting at the Chief’s victory parade).

We can have a debate about the Second Amendment and we can acknowledge that gun ownership is not going away. But it would be a whole lot easier to take seriously that we have been involved in some lofty debate about rights if the NRA and its most prominent leader weren’t using millions and millions for private jets, clothes, and vacations.

If the NRA was a serious organization it would have been worried about safety and about shootings and about responsibility instead of recklessly trying to scare people into thinking that their guns were going to be taken away so as to induce them to send the NRA more money so that Wayne LaPierre could take a yacht to the Bahamas.

What if they had spent those millions trying to prevent shootings while still promoting gun rights?

What if they had taken seriously our obvious gun violence problem instead of promoting “constitutional carry” as if flooding the zone with guns is the solution?

Instead, if you look at their Twitter feed even today, it is obvious that their message is all we need is guns, guns, guns, Guns is all you need.

Sigh.

Clearly, the response to have a leader who cheated the organization out of millions and has led to a serious crisis is to double and triple down on the approach of that leader.

To me when a prophet shows himself to be false, perhaps it is time to reassess his prophesies.

And, by the way, maybe it isn’t such a good idea to let the same guy be in charge for multiple decades since it makes accountability one heck of a whole lot harder to accomplish. LaPierre has been the executive vice president/chief executive of the NRA since 1991 (note that the presidency of the NRA is a symbolic office).

FILED UNDER: Guns and Gun Control, Law and the Courts, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Not the IT Dept. says:

    There are just certain issues and/or words in this country that bring out the stupid in people. Guns are one of those issues; abortion is another (the IVF frenzy this past week is more understandable if you keep this in mind). There are hunters in my family; all are responsible gun owners. And yet they genuinely believe that “someone” is coming for their guns any minute now. They don’t necessarily believe it will be Democrats but they “know” that “someone” wants to. It’s just incredible.

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  2. Michael Reynolds says:

    To me when a prophet shows himself to be false, perhaps it is time to reassess his prophesies.

    The reason con men avoid prosecution is largely down to the reluctance of victims to admit they were conned. They’d rather be robbed than humiliated. See also: MAGA, the biggest grift in US history.

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  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Instead, if you look at their Twitter feed even today, it is obvious that their message is all we need is guns, guns, guns, Guns is all you need.

    Their lobbying work for the arms industry has paid off rather nicely.

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  4. becca says:

    Today’s NRA is a bastardized version brought to us by a convicted murderer named Harlan Carter. He was a butthurt nut job, angry that he couldn’t just kill somebody he thought looked cross eyed at his mom. He found a receptive crowd , willing to take his bullsh!t seriously and, bob’s your uncle, took a once public spirited organization down a path to Crazy Town. The grifts just cascaded from there. Of course, the marks were mostly “conservatives “ so the GOP latched on like a remora to a shark and here we are.

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  5. gVOR10 says:

    The WAPO story noted he left the courtroom surrounded by court officers and private security. Why did he feel the need for private security? Perhaps he feared someone with a … gun? Gawd, wouldn’t LaPierre getting shot be so apt.

    I wish Republicans could connect the dots. It’s not just the NRA, or James O’Keefe, or Bannon’s wall project, or Trump’s sneakers, or George Santos, or Clarence Thomas’ motor home. The whole RW is a collection of grifters.

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  6. Paul L. says:

    The NRA served the purpose of being a target for gun grabbers.
    I don’t think progressives will enjoy a less corrupt and more effective NRA or Gun Owners of America.

    Excellent blaming Gun owners for the coward hero cops of Broward and Uvalde who protect us and keep us safe.
    Good guy with a gun. ie. Nashville Trans and Draw Mohammed shooters that the Democrats mourned.

    Repeal the National Firearms Act.
    The Democrats should campaign on repealing the 2nd amendment and put forward a common sense law requiring all registered Democrats to register and allow confiscation of their guns as 99% of Democrats fully support full gun registration and confiscation.

  7. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    @Paul L.:

    as 99% of Democrats fully support full gun registration and confiscation

    cite?
    Oh, nevermind, you’re not going to have one. You seem to be speaking from your usual mix of superiority and disgruntled feeling that you’re being disrespected.

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  8. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    Dr. T, I was taught firearms and firearm safety by people who’d carried them across Europe and the Pacific in two World Wars. I carried one for years, and did time because anger issues and weapons aren’t a good combination.

    IMO, the NRA and GQP are a perfect combo of anxiety, apprehension, and small mindedness stuffed into an unpleasant and societally unhealthy blob.

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  9. Kevin says:

    @Paul L.: Is this some sort of performance art project?

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  10. Paul L. says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite:
    https://www.97percent.us/
    Universal Background Checks: full gun registration
    Mandatory Gun Buybacks: full gun confiscation

  11. Paul L. says:

    @Kevin:
    Excellent debunking. Addresses all my points. Your defence of the heroic Broward and Uvalde police using officer safety trumps civil rights and public safety as they were afraid to face a weapon of war designed to efficiently kill as many people as possible that only the police must have access to it.

  12. Scott F. says:

    The executives were accused of misappropriating and mismanaging funds donated to the gun rights group’s members. According to James, their actions led to “the loss of more than $64 million in just three years.”

    Grifts will continue until people start going to jail. Actions leading to the loss of more than $64M in 3 years result in LaPierre having to pay back only approximately $5M minus some $1M he has already “repaid.” Imagine robbing a bank and staying out of jail by returning only what authorities can forensically account for as stolen.

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  13. Paul L. says:

    @Scott F.:
    Non profits are not financial institutions.
    Lost of donations is now the same as money on hand.
    I know that the NRA spent $30 million of “Russian money” to help elect Trump.
    And Prosecutors like James and Nifong lie.

  14. Kevin says:

    @Paul L.: You have no points, except for talking points. Which I’m vaguely familiar with, but am reminded of what people said about the DeSantis presidential campaign, which is that at many of the events, no one who wasn’t terminally online would have much chance of following the grievances.

    Your point about the Uvalde police isn’t exactly a bad one, actually, if I understood it, which I may not have. It really isn’t reasonable to expect people who have almost no training to try and kill/disable someone who is wielding a weapon of war. We do expect our police to do far too many things. And some subset of the police have said that, and said that if we want better policing, we need fewer guns. I can understand that view.

    That said, I can also understand the anger of the parents. It’s an impossible job we ask the police to do, but they signed up to do it, and we give them all sorts of leeway in doing it.

    We’re the only country with mass shootings on a daily basis. That’s a cost. I don’t understand what the benefit is that justifies said cost. So talking about coward cops and mental health and so on distracts from the real, societal problem we have. But if it’s actually a solution you want to offer, then let’s try it, and invest a lot more in our public health system, and require the police to be much more educated then they are today, and to spend a lot more time training than they do today.

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  15. DK says:

    @Paul L.: Republicans care about protecting Putin-puppet pedophile, rapist, and patholgical liar Trump more than they care about protecting American kids from gun violence.

    It’s sad, really.

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  16. Kevin says:

    @Paul L.: You need to slow down and explain your sentences, as they look like word salad to me.

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  17. a country lawyer says:

    @Paul L.: What is this? Drunken haiku?

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  18. Slugger says:

    Let’s talk in more general terms. I have the sense that many tax exempt organizations function more to channel money to their administrators than to the good cause that they proudly proclaim to the public. In my personal life, I gave a lot of money to an organization that claimed to be fighting a dread disease that affected a family member. The CEO of this organization was making $800,000 per year. I have changed my giving after learning this. I don’t agree with the stated goals of the NRA, but its supporters should not be ripped off. We should rethink tax exempt organizations to ensure that they are more than piggy banks for the insiders.

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  19. steve says:

    For those who dont know 97% is an organization of gun owners trying to include actual gun owners, not necessarily Dems or Repubs, in addressing gun violence. Their name comes from a single poll which showed that 97% of Americans, D and R, supported universal back ground checks. That tends to poll pretty high in all polls though rarely that low. There is no poll that shows 99% of people agree on much to do with gun. They do a fair number of polls. By and large the majority favor stuff the NRA would call gun control.

    Steve

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  20. Paul L. says:

    It really isn’t reasonable to expect people who have almost no training to try and kill/disable someone who is wielding a weapon of war.

    It is reasonable to the US courts that citizen subjects do anything necessary to protect the police.
    A longsword is a weapon of war too.

  21. All cars are registered. Cars have not been confiscated.

    Registration does not equal confiscation.

    Plus: you need at least rudimentary training, including passing a test, to drive a car. You have to have liability insurance as well.

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  22. Paul L. says:

    @steve:
    Democrats will poll higher than 97% of gun owners for a popular gun control/safety policy. I would like to see Democrats campaign on this 97% popular federal universal gun registry.
    And next like NY and CA that gun registry will be used for inspection, taxation and confiscation.

  23. Paul L. says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Sigh the Cory Booker argument comparing cars and guns. In PA, you can drive a car on your own property without a inspection, registration or insurance. Those only apply to public roads. Of course PA extended public roads to driveways because public safety and law enforcement demanded it.
    And those who want to ban gas ovens may try to pass laws to ban gas powered automobiles.

  24. @Paul L.: You’re “argument” is that “registration=confiscation”. But it is quite clear that other registered things are not confiscated.

    As such, your equation of the two is null and void.

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  25. Jax says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I don’t like the idea of banning Paul L, despite how creepy he makes me feel, as a woman. I would like for the admins to present a challenge.

    Do Not Feed The Fucking Troll that is Paul L. He’s obviously gotten more engagement here than he has elsewhere. He’s creepy, he’s weird, if we ignore him, maybe he’ll go away. I, myself, am guilty of feeding the troll, but MarkedMan made a point the other night that really stuck with me. This guy has obviously hurt women. Every time we rile him up on the internet, he might hurt someone in real life.

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  26. @Jax: You raise a legitimate point.

  27. Paul L. says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    Really? Libel with actual malice.

    This guy has obviously hurt women. Every time we rile him up on the internet, he might hurt someone in real life.

  28. @Paul L.: Look, I don’t want to further engage. I was agreeing with the notion that engaging you is pointless and just encourages your word salad.

    At this stage, I do not think you should be banned, but after this comment, I do not plan to further engage with you as either you do not know how to engage, or you engage in bad faith (or both).

    If you want to read and drop your non sequiturs, you may do so.

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  29. @Jax: @Paul L.: To be clear, as I should have been earlier. I am not endorsing Jax’s speculation about Paul L.’s behavior and would suggest that it is unkind to engage in such evidence-free assertions.

    I was agreeing, as noted above, that engaging Paul L. has proven to be a pointless exercise.